Formula 1

Toto Wolff forced to make painful admission about Mercedes and Ferrari

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It may be seen as a way of piling the pressure on a main rival or just being brutally honest, but Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said that Ferrari are the firm favourites for the 2017 title.

It has been a tough start to the season for the German manufacturer, who were expected to dominate F1 again having won the previous three driving titles.

However, it has been Ferrari and in particular Sebastian Vettel who have left the other teams searching for answers on how to stop their momentum.

While both Mercedes and Ferrari each have three wins from the six races, it has been the consistency of Vettel which has been the difference.

The German driver has not finished out of the top two places in 2017, and currently has a 24-point lead over Lewis Hamilton.

BBC reported Wolff as saying: "It's painful but we are not the favourites for this year's championship. At the moment, it's Ferrari.

"We need to rise to the challenge to prove we are the team to beat."

In the last few years, it became common place to see the names of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg setting the pace in qualifying.

While Valtteri Bottas has done a more than admirable job replacing Rosberg, the retired defending champion, Wolff admits there are some issues that need to be resolved.

"We've come into this season with a strong car that has allowed us to win three of the first six races.

"But it has also caused us more complications than we have seen in previous years.

"Everybody at the factories is working absolutely flat out to assess the current difficulties we are facing.

"Some of these fixes will be short term, others may take longer."

While it's not exactly panic stations just yet, with another 14 races on the calendar and only 17 points the difference in the manufactures championship, Wolff admits his team has to be on their game every week.

"We have to fight with all that we are worth for every single win, pole position, podium finish and every point.

"Its about showing resilience and getting up after falling."

Mercedes face their next moment of truth in the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend and Wolff admits that it will be another major challenge.

"I'm expecting an interesting weekend in Canada. It could be a tricky race for us in terms of the layout of the track."

The circuit has a number of slow corners and lacks the faster, longer corners which work the tyres harder and bring Mercedes' aerodynamics into the equation.

On a positive note, Hamilton has a deal of success at the track in Montreal where he has five victories from nine races.

Psychology plays a large part in sport and the comments from Wolff may well be looked back on as a masterstroke if Mercedes manage to turn the momentum around.

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